On a recent visit to Budapest, the capital of Hungary, I was lucky enough to enjoy a terrific meal at a restaurant called Bock Bisztro, which served many dishes made from Mangalitsa pork. Although I had eaten the meat of this particular breed of pig before and knew just how delicious and fully flavored it could be, this was the first time I noticed how incredibly versatile it is. The meal easily rates as one of my best in recent years.
I hope that watching the Iron Chef’s work with this magnificent beast in Kitchen Stadium will inspire you to go in search of this alternative to traditional pork breeds, either in the restaurants of some of the nation’s top chefs or in your own kitchens.
You won’t regret it.
What is a Mangalitsa pig?
Mangalitsa pigs, or as they are known in their native Hungary, Mangalica pigs, are a breed of hog that is renowned for their deeply flavored meat and for their high fat content. The name Mangalica literally means “hog with a lot of lard.” They are sometimes also known as “wooly pigs” because of the curly haired fleece that covers their body.
The famed Secret Ingredient: It’s destroyed some chefs while others have succeeded in Kitchen Stadium. In past years, we’ve seen the Chairman unveil everything from eggs, canned tuna, kale and mozzarella to cowboy rib-eyes, seaweed, whole pigs and sea whistle. From everyday ingredients to hard-to-find cuts of meat and fish, the culinary wizards of Food Network can find just about anything.
Have you ever wanted a say in the Secret Ingredient? Now’s your chance.
Instructions: Vote once a day until next Tuesday for your favorite Secret Ingredient in our poll below. Then stay tuned to an upcoming episode to see if your ingredient was chosen.
At the University Grill in Burlington, N.C., Robert Irvine faced three co-owners who refused to get along. Siblings Eleni, George and Manny opened the restaurant five years ago to help provide for their retired parents, but they were facing failure when Restaurant: Impossible came along to help. We checked in with the siblings after their restaurant’s makeover to see how business is going.
A few months after Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team arrived on the scene, sales at the University Grill are up 15 percent. “Everyone loves the new decor,” says Eleni.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, chances are you’re a fan of Sweet Genius, now in its second season. Back with more whimsy and wonder, each episode has four of America’s premier pastry chefs competing against one another through three rounds of challenges judged by Master Pastry Chef Ron Ben-Israel, testing their creativity, ingenuity and imagination. The chefs are given surprise ingredients, inspiration and a limited amount of time; with those three elements as a guide, they must create a delectable chocolate, candy and cake dessert. The winners from each round advance for a final test, with Ron crowning the remaining chef Sweet Genius and awarding them a $10,000 cash prize.
Now we need your help and inspiration for the third season. Have you thought of a surprise ingredient or challenge that would be perfect for Sweet Genius?
Get creative: We’re hoping to see suggestions that include live animals, colorful objects, items with moving parts (think the robot from this season or our bubble machine) or wacky things like a baby doll or ventriloquist’s dummy. Tell us your suggestions in the comments below and they may be featured in the upcoming season.
In Aptos, Calif., Robert and the Restaurant: Impossible team faced the daunting task of turning things around at Ristorante Barolo. Owners Giovanni Guerisoli and Cristina Locke struggled with the changing economy as well as family health problems, and could barely keep their 10-year-old business afloat.We checked in with the couple to see how things were going after Restaurant: Impossible.
Three months later, sales at Ristorante Barolo have increased by 37%. “The new decor and also all the publicity because of the show have brought new customers,” says Cristina. “People watch and really like Restaurant: Impossible.” Read more »
Food Network Star kicks off its eighth season this Sunday night, but this year’s competition will be like nothing you’ve seen before. Three of Food Network’s finest chefs and superstars – Alton Brown, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis – are joining the contest, not as judges, but as guiding mentors to groups of five hand-picked Star hopefuls. With the advice and support of their coaches, finalists on Team Alton, Team Bobby and Team Giada will battle it out week after week in the ultimate job interview to prove they have what it takes to host their own Food Network show.
Get to know each of the contestants before Sunday night’s episode by watching a never-before-seen casting special on Saturday, May 12 at 9pm/8c. Alton, Bobby and Giada reveal why they chose each finalist for their respective teams and offer a behind-the-scenes look into this season’s competitive casting process.
Then tune in to the season eight premiere of Food Network Star on Sunday, May 13 at 9pm/8c to see which finalists are early favorites and who gets sent home first.
As an Invention Hunter (aka product scout), I’m always searching for the next great kitchen gadget. For the purpose of this blog, let’s define “gadgets” as those inexpensive must-have tools that fit in your kitchen drawers. Here are my picks for the top five kitchen gadgets under $10:
Norpro Egg Rite Timer ($5) — Throw out your grandmother’s egg timer: This high-tech egg timer, isn’t really a timer at all. Shaped like an egg, you place it in the pan with your eggs and it calculates cooking stages by temperature, not by inaccurate time. It automatically adjusts for the number of eggs, amount of water and even the altitude. Egg-cellent, huh?
Mastrad Silicone Steam Cooker ($10) — Forget the old iron or aluminum steam cookers of yesteryear, silicone is today’s go-to kitchen material. This steam cooker is super convenient because you don’t have to use water or add oil to cook your food. All you have to do is stick it in the microwave for a few minutes and you get a quick, healthy meal.
Robert’s latest mission brought him to Pappas, a family-owned Greek restaurant in Benicia, Calif. Feuding brothers, a drab interior and lackluster food were leading this business toward extinction. We checked in with the owners to see how things are going a few months after their Restaurant: Impossible makeover.
Pappas Restaurant has seen an increase in sales of more than 50 percent versus the same time last year. The added revenue is helping Michael, aka Pappa, pay off his tax debts: “I see a great future ahead,” he says.
Pappas is seeing an increase in new customers and some old customers from the early days are finding their way back to the restaurant. They love the blue and white decor and are curious to try the new and improved Greek-inspired menu.
The average American consumes nearly five pounds of peaches every year, and I can’t blame them as peaches are very possibly my favorite fruit of all. If you visited my home in Los Angeles, you would be very likely to find a large fruit bowl in my kitchen laden with quite a few different varieties along with a few samples of their smooth cousins, the nectarine.
As well as eating them raw as a healthy snack, I love to use peaches in a wide variety of both sweet and savory dishes and am always on the lookout for inspiring recipes.
If, until now, you have always thought of the peach as little more than a canned filling for pie, I hope that this week’s efforts in Kitchen Stadium will persuade you that there is far more to this humble fruit than you ever imagined. You might even be inspired to head out in search of some interesting varieties at your local farmers’ market.
What are peaches?
The fruit of the peach tree is a “drupe,” which means it has a three-layered structure of skin, flesh and a hard stone or “pit” at the center. This puts it in the same family as other fruits including plums, cherries and apricots, and also relates it to walnuts and almonds.
Last night we watched four chefs, each with a win under his or her belt, face off in the finale of the Chopped All-Stars tournament. In the four previous rounds, Michael Symon reigned supreme among the Iron Chefs, Penny Davidi prevailed against her fellow Food Network Star alums, Jeffrey Saad bested three other globetrotting show hosts and Marcus Samuelsson out-cooked his Chopped judging cohorts. But it all came down to the final battle: Only one of these chefs would win $50,000 for their charity.
If you missed the show and recorded it, don’t read any further — we’re about to break down the episode and chat with the winner. You can catch the full episode here.